Re-viewing Modernist Criticism, Mary Kelly

Paradox of photography – Edelman. For the law of property in the nineteenth century, which ascertained that the image could only be property to the extent that it was mixed with subject, that is, represented and transformed through his creative labour. Although it can now be legally maintained that a creative subject and his purpose is installed behind the camera, this does not mean that it is generally sanctioned within the traditional institutions and discourses of fine art. Artistic practices employing film or photography as well as those using found objects, processes, or systems where creative labour is apparently absent, continue to problematise the transcendental imperatives which predominate in critical and historical literature on art.

To insist on the materiality of the print would be to undermine its founding attribute, that of illusion.

What is lost in that image, in so far as it can no longer be emphatically marked as the property of the creative subject, is gained to the extent that it is, precisely, a photograph of the artist and as the possessive subject he has the right of the photographer over the disposal of his own image. What is taken away from the pictorial text-the painterly signifier of bodily gesture, is given back in photographic form as the visible body, its peculiar gestures acceding to the status of the signifier in another space, that of pictorial quotation.

The artistic photograph; the detail, the interesting composition which displaces the record. It gives the appearance of transgression, but effectively it is a fragment, a metonymy, enveloped by the all-pervasive pictorial metaphor, addressing the reader with continued reference to the grand regime o Painting.

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